The risk of getting water-borne illnesses, like leptospirosis, is often much greater during the rainy season.
Health experts said this is because floodwaters and other extreme weather-related events cause rodents and other wild and domesticated species to move into the city.
In the Philippines, cases of leptospirosis have been spiking in the recent weeks due to rains and heavy flooding.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that from January 1 to August 3 this year, more than 900 cases of leptospirosis were recorded, 300 of which are from Metro Manila. Out of these cases, 106 fatalities were reported.
According to the World Health Organization, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. It is an infection in both wild and domesticated animals but rodents are implicated most often in human cases.
Human infection can occur through “direct contact with the urine of infected animals or with a urine-contaminated environment such as surface water, soil and plants.”
The most common route of infection is exposure to water contaminated by urine, such as floodwaters, and through skin abrasions and the mucus of the nose, mouth and eyes.
How leptospirosis affects your body?
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Cybele Abad, in an interview with UNTV Digital program Lifesaver, said that when leptospirosis bacteria enter the body, it spreads through blood and infects the cells.
“Kapag halimbawa after ng isang bagyo tapos lumusong sa baha tapos may bukas na sugat sa paa, usually pwedeng makapasok yung Leptospirosis (bacteria) sa open wound sa paa… Tapos dala ng dugo, iikot sa buong katawan yung leptospiros at magkakaroon ng mga sintomas ng leptospirosis,” Abad said.
Watch this online episode of Lifesaver for more information on how leptospirosis affects your body.
Signs and Symptoms
The time between a person’s exposure to a contaminated source and becoming sick is two to four days.
In the early stages of the disease, symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, chills, redness of the eyes, abdominal pain, jaundice, haemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash.
But according to Abad, many of leptospirosis’ symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases, so it is important for a person suspected with this infection to seek immediate medical consultation and tests.
“Kapag (tingin) po na may posibilidad na leptospirosis, kailangan dalhin sa ospital para mabantayan yung mga sintomas. Kailangan din pong ma-diagnose ito, usually through some blood test, puwedeng blood culture o kaya may diagnostic test para malaman kung leptospirosis or hindi,” she said.
What to do to prevent infection?
To avoid leptospirosis, health experts advise the public to take up measures, which include:
Avoiding swimming or wading in potentially contaminated water or flood water.
Use of proper protection like boots and gloves when work requires exposure to contaminated water.
Draining of potentially contaminated water when possible.
Control rats in the household by using rat traps or rat poison, maintaining cleanliness in the house.
The illness usually lasts for a few days to three weeks or longer and can be treated with antibiotics. But without treatment, recovery may take several months.
The more severe phase of the disease may lead a person to have kidney or liver failure or meningitis.
Lifesaver is a UNTV Digital program that offers basic first aid training essential to anyone who happens to be a bystander to an accident or emergency. It also educates viewers of imperative emergency response lessons and indispensable disaster preparedness tools to be able to save lives in times of calamities.
For more information on dengue, other basic first aid and emergency response tips, visit Lifesaver’s Youtube and Facebook accounts.
MANILA, Philippines – The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday expressed concern over the re-emergence of poliovirus in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free.
The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) earlier announced an outbreak on polio after a case was confirmed in a 3-year old girl from Lanao del Sur. Environmental samples from sewage in Manila and waterways in Davao also tested positive for the poliovirus.
“We are very concerned that polioviruses are now circulating in Manila, Davao, and Lanao del Sur,” WHO Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said in a joint statement with UNICEF.
“It is deeply disconcerting that poliovirus has re-emerged in the Philippines after nearly two decades. The outbreak calls for urgent action to protect more children from being infected,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyun Dendevnorov said.
The agencies said the polio outbreak in the Philippines is confirmed to be from a circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.
This is of particular concern, as wild poliovirus type 2 was certified as globally eradicated in 2015, they added.
Polio mainly affects children under five years of age and vaccination is their only and best protection against the highly infectious disease.
But if immunization activities are poorly conducted and too few children have received the required three doses of polio vaccine, the agencies said this can leave them “susceptible to poliovirus, either from vaccine-derived or wild polioviruses.”
“Full immunization protects them from both forms of the virus.”
“It reminds us of the importance of increasing immunization coverage to 95% of children to stop polio virus transmission in the Philippines… As long as one single child remains infected, children across the country and even beyond are at risk of contracting polio,” Dendevnorov said.
Prior to the declaration of the outbreak, the DOH and its partners launched a polio immunization campaign in the City of Manila. Further mass polio immunization rounds will be rolled out from October 2019.
The WHO and UNICEF both vowed to work closely with the DOH to strengthen surveillance and swiftly respond to the outbreak.
They also echoed the DOH’s call for parents and guardians, especially in affected areas, to have their children vaccinated for their protection against diseases.
“We urge all parents and caregivers of children under 5 years of age to have them vaccinated so that they are protected against polio for life.”
The WHO and UNICEF assured the oral polio vaccine (OPV) is a safe and effective vaccine that has saved millions of lives since its introduction in 1988.
The agencies explained that when a child is immunized with OPV, the weakened virus contained in the vaccine replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies.
If a population is not sufficiently immunized, the weakened virus can continue to circulate. The longer it is allowed to survive, the more changes it undergoes.
“In rare instances, the virus can change to a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), a form that has regained the ability to cause paralysis,” they said.
The WHO and UNICEF likewise called on local governments to help ensure that immunization campaigns are planned and implemented effectively.
They also reminded families to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use a toilet, consume food that is fully cooked, and drink safe water.
The two agencies are among the partner-organizations under the Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI) supporting the Philippine government’s response by providing technical advice and on-the-ground monitoring and risk communication.
The GPEI is a public-private partnership led by national governments with the WHO, Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered Department of Health (DOH)-controlled hospitals to report cases that are related to using vape.
This was after health officials in the United Stated confirmed on Tuesday (September 10) that a 50-year-old man died of lung disease linked to vape use.
According to Dr. Anton Javier, project manager of Product Research and Standards Development Division Center for Cosmetics in the FDA, they might not monitor any illnesses related to using vape just yet because of the latency period.
“Because of the latency period nga po baka po wala pa tayo makita just yet. Pwede po kasing nagve-vape ka ngayon pero iyong mga magiging sakit niyo down the line pa, (Because of the latency period, we might not see [incidence] just yet. You can actually use vape now but your illness might appear down the line)” he said.
However, an expert said the confirmed case in the United States should not be a cause of alarm.
“It’s been well proven by laboratories in the US that deaths in Kansas whatever it is, has got nothing to do with e-cigarettes its what these people has put in e cigarettes that contains adulterated contaminants of cannabis,” according to Harm Reduction Expert Dr. Tikki Pang.
The FDA had previously released a regulation on using vape or e-cigarettes. Manufacturers or retailers were given until October 25 to register their products to the FDA.
The FDA has also warned against the dangers of the chemicals found in vape products. This include cynemaldehide which causes blockage in the lungs which can lead to difficulty in breathing.
Another dangerous chemical, according to the FDA, is diacetyl which causes bronchylitis or inflammation of the lungs.—AAC (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
MANILA, Philippines – Dengue cases reported in the Philippines have reached more than 208,000 from January 1 to August 10 this year, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday.
The DOH said this figure is higher than the 102, 298 cases recorded in the same period last year.
Of this number, 900 deaths were reported.
Data from the DOH revealed that ten regions including the National Capital Region (NCR) have exceeded the Dengue Epidemic Threshold for the said period.
DOH Dengue Surveillance Report also showed that Region 6 (Western Visayas) had the most number of cases at 23,330 followed by Region 4-A (Calabarzon) with 16,515, Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) with 12,317, Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) with 11,455 and Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN) with 11,083 cases.
In San Lazaro Hospital in Manila alone, at least 100 patients infected with dengue are being monitored daily since July.
According to San Lazaro Hospital Spokesperson Ferdinand de Guzman, the number of dengue cases is seen to rise in the coming months.
“We’re only in August, just August, so we still have months to come with rains. So, in fact, we feel the dengue season started late this year, although in the provinces there are already cases and the Department of Health’s predictions have been right, we might see so many cases of dengue,” he said.
“We still expect to see cases of dengue until the end of the year, so until the rains are here, there will still be dengue cases, so we have to be careful,” he added.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection contracted through a bite of dengue virus-carrying mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes can lay eggs in containers or spaces that can hold water, even plant pots with stagnant water.
Symptoms of the dengue fever include sudden onset of fever for two to seven days along with headache, rashes, fatigue, joint and muscle pains, pain behind the eyes, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
The DOH has been calling on the public to help prevent and control the spread of dengue by maintaining cleanliness and searching and destroying mosquito breeding sites. (RRD with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)
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